Can You Compost Diapers?

If you take care of a baby, you know how many diapers you throw away each day. Can you compost them instead?

Sick of how many diapers you are putting into the trash each day? It really adds up and is horrible for the environment.

In a typical year, nearly 18 billion disposable diapers end up in garbage cans, ready to be sent to landfills. And this is only in the US!

Is there a better way? Can they be composted? And if so, how?

Compostable, But With a Caveat

Can you compost diapers for use in the garden? Yes, but there’s a catch.

The inner lining of most disposable diapers is made up of a blend of fibers that, under normal conditions, decompose into useable compost for a garden. The issue is not with the diapers themselves but with their contents.

Human excrement (as well as that of dogs and cats) is full of bacteria and other pathogens that spread disease, and the usual compost pile isn’t hot enough to kill them. You should avoid composting diapers soiled with feces; however, you could add it to your compost bin if it is urine-soiled.

Still, to be safe, use this soil amendment only for flowers, trees, and bushes. It should not be used anywhere near a food garden. Don’t risk the chance of ingesting those bacteria and pathogens.

Used diapers thrown in a disposing plastic bin

Are They Biodegradable?

The outside layer of traditional single-use diapers is, unfortunately, not biodegradable. Biodegradable materials are made from natural fibers that decompose and can be returned to the soil. But plastic is not biodegradable. Often, single-use diapers are produced from a variety of plastic-based materials.

Many companies use words like “manufactured with plant-based ingredients” to make you believe they are biodegradable. Plant-based products reduce your carbon footprint and are great for your baby’s bum, but they aren’t entirely biodegradable.

The absorbent chemical in products on the market is sodium polyacrylate, which does not degrade.

And even biodegradable products can take decades to degrade and generate methane gas when they decompose in landfills.

How to Compost Diapers

As you already know, the inner linings of most diapers are compostable. You can detach the outside liner and compost the interior components. Do this only with wet diapers! Human feces should not be allowed to enter your garden or compost heap.

The insides can be composted after you’ve torn it open. I recommend doing this outside while wearing gloves! The remainder of it will have to be discarded. It’s difficult, time-consuming, and only composts a part of the diaper.

That is why even companies that create genuinely biodegradable diapers advise against composting them at home. In addition to the challenge of dealing with feces and infections, there is the issue of space: A biodegradable diaper can take up to one year to degrade. Babies go through a lot of diapers in that time!

How Long Does It Take to Break Down?

The time it takes for a biodegradable diaper to degrade is determined by the sort of composter you’re using.

The inner part will compost in about 12 months if you use a compost tumbler or a simple open-air pile.

A hot composting bin can cut the time it takes for it to decompose down by several months.

Worm bins should not be used since the worms will not be able to handle the enormous volume of soiled diapers produced by your infant.

Municipal Composting

Industrial composters in your city or town’s facilities can reach temperatures high enough to break down soiled diapers and destroy infections.

Some localities accept biodegradable diapers in the compost container. To find out, contact your municipality’s trash management program.

How to Be More Environmentally Friendly

In addition to composting diapers, another environmentally friendly option is to use cloth diapers. Cloth diapers may be reused and even passed down through several generations.

Cloth vs. Disposable Diapers

In general, reusable diapers are better for the environment. They can be washed using renewable energy, in efficient machines, using minimal water. They can be line-dried and passed on to others when your child is done with them.

Most disposable diapers end up in landfills. And what ends up in a landfill stays in a landfill.

Jeffrey Douglas
Jeffrey Douglas own a landscaping company and has been in the business for over 20 years. He loves all things related to lawns or gardens and believes that proper maintenance is the key to preventing problems in the first place.
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